Shortstop Chris Valaika Chosen in Third Round of Major League Baseball Amateur Draft

Shortstop Chris Valaika Chosen in Third Round of Major League Baseball Amateur Draft

June 6, 2006

Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara shortstop Chris Valaika made Gaucho history today when the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the third round of today's Major League Baseball Rule V Amateur Draft.

The native of Valencia, Calif., was the 84th overall selection, the second-highest any UCSB baseball player has ever been taken in the June Amateur Draft. Maury Ornest was drafted in the second round of the 1980 June Amateur Draft

"This is a great accomplishment when you consider all of the great players who have come through this program and been drafted," UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. "This is a great and well-deserved accomplishment and we're all very happy for him."

With rumors circling all year about where he would go in the draft, going in the third round was a pleasant surprise for Valaika who was the seventh shortstop taken in the draft.

"I was extremely surprised. I had heard everything from Top-10 to Top-8 to Top-5, so to go in the third round is a bit of a surprise," Valaika said.

In 2006, Valaika was a First Team All-Big West Conference selection a year after sitting out the majority of the 2005 season with an injured knee.

"His dedication towards his comeback caused an amazing transformation in him. He committed himself 100-percent in that process," Brontsema said. "He pushed his ceiling of fitness and play to a level that I'm not sure he even thought he could reach. What Chris found out is that there is more there and with a player who has that kind of work ethic, there is no telling what he can accomplish."

Valaika was second on the team in terms of batting average with a .335 mark in 2006 and his 57 RBIs led the Big West. As a Gaucho rookie in 2004, Valaika was a Freshman All-American as well as the Big West's Freshman of the Year.